Brass Jaw, for those who don't know them, are a quartet consisting of Allon Beauvoisin on baritone sax, Konrad Wiszniewski on tenor sax, Paul Towndrow on alto sax and Ryan Quigley on trumpet. They play originals and covers, very jazz, funk and blues oriented. The trumpet makes a big difference - they really stand out from saxophone quartets as a result. Their playing was amazing as always - every time I see them I'm surprised Allon doesn't faint from lack of oxygen after each piece, given the bass lines he's playing on baritone! They really engaged with the audience, more so than the BBC Big Band which followed them.
Brass Jaw at The Lot, Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2008
The BBC Big Band set was being recorded for Radio 3's Jazz Lineup, to be broadcast on Sunday 5th July at 11:30pm. I hope they also broadcast some of Brass Jaw, but it doesn't look likely - there's no mention of them on the page.
Because it was being recorded for radio, there wasn't really any direct interaction with the audience, making it seem a bit routine and disconnected. The presenter, Claire Martin (who also sang a few numbers) read each link from a script, and while she made it sound very natural, there was no connection to the audience, and no gaps anywhere, since gaps must never happen on radio! Perhaps they should work more like some of the classical concerts on Radio 3 where it's a proper audience performance, and the radio presenter fills the listener in with extra details while there are gaps.
The band were joined by guest soloist, tenor player Art Themen. Personally, I wasn't as impressed as I had expected to be. He didn't seem to connect with the band, particularly during his solos, most of which were of the very technical variety, demonstrating how many scales the player knows. I prefer more melodic solos myself. Also, his notes weren't entirely clean, particularly some of the harmonics, and I always like a very clean, controlled sound. However, I have to say - to have got so far and have reached the level he has given that he had a full time job as an consultant orthopaedic surgeon until his recent retirement is very impressive!
All in all, it was a very good performance, and the band were very tight. But there are other big bands I would choose to go and see over them, given the choice.